A guy clad in a black tailcoat fit with pink piping and red epaulets and a pork pie hat reclines as he reads a e book with tattered internet pages. He’s surrounded by an array of philosophical, literary, and scientific classics, this sort of as The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, the Tao Te Ching, penned all over 400 BC and credited to the sage Lao-Tzu, On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin, and Points Drop Apart by Chinua Achebe, amplifying his worldliness across hundreds of years.
A diminutive Elf Owl, the world’s smallest raptor, sits atop the hat, evoking Celtic tales of saints such as St. Kevin of Glendalough (498-618) and symbolizing wisdom, instinct, supernatural power, impartial considering, and observant listening. The human determine is named for Qoheleth (generally translated from Hebrew as “preacher”), who is recognized as “the son of David, king in Jerusalem” and credited in the superscription of Ecclesiastes, one of the Ketuvim of the Hebrew Bible and component of the Wisdom literature of the Christian Previous Testament.
In wide the barren Icelandic black sand landscape, the person finds solace, embraced by the skeletal rib cage of an huge sperm whale, alluding to the the tale of Jonah and the whale about a Hebrew prophet who God instructions to vacation to the excellent town of Nineveh to preach repentance to its wicked inhabitants. He devotes up to 1,700 hrs, the equal of approximately 71 consecutive days, to paint meticulous operates these as Swallowed by Know-how on Baltics-grown birch plywood, coveted globally by woodworkers.
Internationally renowned, Moscow-born, Canada-based mostly artist Josh Tiessen, ideal acknowledged for his often uniquely shaped hyperreal oil paintings checking out the interaction between nature and human-built constructions and scenarios, draws from myriad influences across humanities and sciences to produce elaborate visual narratives. Swallowed by Know-how is between 23 immaculate oil paintings and graphite pencil drawings accompanied by in depth artist statements on look at as Vanitas and Viriditas, showcasing Tiessen’s newest body of work and celebrating the grand opening of Rehs Modern and adjacent Rehs Galleries expanded, mild-crammed spot in Manhattan’s Midtown East.
Tiessen, born in 1995, introduces Swallowed by Knowledge with a estimate from Ecclesiastes 12:12: “Of making quite a few guides there is no conclusion, and a great deal review wearies the body.” His inspiration also derives from disagreements between Danish existentialist thinker Søren Kierkegaard and German idealist philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. Kierkegaard was anti-metaphysical and opposed Hegel’s identification of getting and thought, however they agreed that Socrates is the founder of morality. Tiessen extends his inquiry into up to date philosophy by thinking about Charles Taylor’s critique of existing-day religiosity, characterized by the “nova outcome,” empowering men and women with the prospects to give this means to their life.
All this loftiness definitely boosts our engagement with Tiessen’s oeuvre, nevertheless just about every do the job, imbued with playfulness and humor to balance the depth and scholarship, can be appreciated for its technological skill and aesthetic pleasure. Tiessen’s thoughtful, intricate compositions convey a mastery by an artist who obtained acclaim at an early age. He was the youngest member of International Guild of Realism, Artists for Conservation and Culture of Animal Artists, and has been selected by the Art Renewal Centre as “Affiliate Residing Learn.”
Tiessen, who was accompanied by his brother, Zac Tiessen, an intercontinental award-profitable musician, composer and mastering engineer who carried out at past night’s opening, approached his viewers with humility, respect, and candor. When my 13-year-outdated son Michael requested if the recurring Qoheleth determine is a self portrait, Tiessen stated that while the artist resembles the man who wears equivalent eyeglasses, the figure is modeled soon after a buddy although acknowledging that each individual artist “puts themself in their perform.”
Hilarity abounds as we face Greening the White Cube, the place a female figure dependent on a close friend who poses for a number of functions emerges from verdant woods into a blue chip artwork gallery by means of an opening shaped like a whale. Tree leaves pour in by means of openings on the back wall and ceiling, demonstrating nature’s dominance even among very well-acknowledged masterpieces by artists these kinds of as Pablo Picasso, Damien Hirst, Christopher Wool, Marcel Duchamp, Jeff Koons, and Jackson Pollack.
The canvas, precisely lower in the shape of a painter’s palette, highlights Tiessen’s agility at painstakingly continuing his painting on the curved sides. The woman’s existence is magnified by the pleasant gentle that captures her shadow on the gallery flooring, making her part of each organic and human-created worlds.
We’re spellbound by the lavish mingling of pinks, purples, and blues that increase the mysterious depiction of Qoheleth in a hidden cave of crystals where by he holds a skull in his hand at eye amount in Momento Mori. The skull and candle motifs are derived from vanitas (Latin for “vanity,” or “emptiness”), and aspect of the cultural phenomenon in Early Modern Europe recognized as memento mori (a Latin phrase that means “remember you should die”) to remind viewers of the brevity and frailty of human existence. The coffin-shaped canvas is concurrently menacing and droll.
In his extensive notes, Tiessen describes how he borrowed from a broad array of influences which include journalist and novelist Tom Wolfe’s confrontation with Fashionable Art and drawings of Francis of Assisi praying in a cave with a cranium resting on a stone desk.
We oscillate involving realities with Nirvana 5G, wherever Qoheleth floats in a cross-legged place, hovering in the forefront of an apocalyptic cityscape influenced by digital truth movie video games and flanked by a black cheetah to our left and a burning hazardous squander trash barrel to our correct. His expression and pose trace at serene and serenity, even as he navigates the horrors of a long term world.
Tiessen probed the Metaverse when he experimented with a virtual truth headset by playing game titles, portray in 3 dimensions, interacting with human avatars in social worlds, and attending a church provider. The voyage was minimize limited immediately after he knowledgeable intensive motion illness, even as he speedily attained a must have insights. Father John Misty’s tune Whole Enjoyment Permanently led his journey into VR and the possible horrors of a potential environment.
In Tiessen’s phrases, “As our entire world accelerates toward urbanization and the obliteration of the organic planet, will we drive to escape to a digital world? While Qohelet sits mesmerized, the encircling turkey vultures and famished Black Jaguar provide as the only signals of existence. Is this the type of dystopian existence we want? Perhaps the animals will jolt Qohelet again to the real entire world he was named to inhabit and steward.”